Digital freight matching (DFM) player Uber Freight may not be able to turn a profit on its own revenues, but it is excellent at enlisting new investors, as shown by today’s announcement that the private equity firm Greenbriar Equity Group L.P. has agreed to invest $500 million in the business.
The move marks the second time in a month that the firm’s parent company, the ride-hailing pioneer Uber Technologies Inc., has sold off portions of its ownership stake in the young freight unit. In September, Uber Technologies sold a majority of the unit’s European freight arm to the German digital freight forwarding startup sennder, leaving Uber Technologies as a minority shareholder.
Today’s “series A” funding round was led by New York-based Greenbriar, and joined by “an investor group” of unspecified additional partners. Uber Technologies will maintain majority ownership in Uber Freight and will use the new funds to continue to scale its logistics platform and accelerate product innovation to equip shippers with technology to power their supply chains, the company said. In connection with the investment, Greenbriar managing partners Michael Weiss and Jill Raker will join the Uber Freight board of directors.
Launched in 2017 by San Francisco-based Uber, the freight unit was spun off as a standalone business unit in 2018 and continued its expansion in 2019 by opening a Chicago office and expanding operations into Europe and Canada. The unit has also been busily launching new technology platforms over that period, signing API integration partnerships with cloud TMS providers such as Blue Yonder and expanding its enterprise software offering with the launch of Uber Freight Enterprise and Uber Freight Link, both of which put Uber’s technical power directly into the hands of large shippers and provide a central point of control for logistics operations, the company said.
Uber Freight says its goal is to enable trucking companies and their drivers to book loads as seamlessly as they would book an Uber ride, while the company’s suite of on-demand logistics solutions, APIs, and software integrations provide shippers with the ability to seamlessly plan, budget, tender, and track their freight, no matter their procurement needs.
Despite those ambitions, Uber Freight has had trouble turning its model into profits. For its most recent quarter, spanning the three months ending June 30, Uber Freight lost $49 million after collecting $211 million in net revenue, according to the company's earnings report. For the same quarter in 2019, the unit lost $52 million on $167 in net revenue. For context, its parent company Uber Technologies—which also include the ride-hailing and food-delivery divisions—lost $837 million on net revenue of $1.9 billion for the second quarter of 2020. In 2019, those figures included a loss of $656 million on net revenue of $2.9 billion.
However, those results did not discourage Uber Freight’s new investors, who said, “We are excited to support Uber Freight in the next stage of its development with both our financial investment and our industry-leading experience in logistics,” according to a statement by Weiss.
“Uber Freight has created an innovative and effective approach to logistics technology that we believe is highly scalable in the coming years. In particular, we believe that carriers and shippers will be increasingly attracted to the convenience and simplicity that Uber Freight offers in a complex marketplace. We are eager to share the extensive knowledge and expertise we have built through our decades-long involvement in the logistics sector,” Weiss said.